As you can gather from the title, John Salonia’s book concerns the adventures of Shemlard Shoreditch and his pet pig ‘Pickles’, who apparently knows when his master has had more than enough heroin and then attempts to hide the supply. This is a blend of a Sherlock Holmes spoof (Pickles the pig, in this case, being his Watson) and the works of Terry Pratchett. I’ll admit that I found it hard to get into but, persevering, found it quite amusing, tongue in cheek and then – ironically – very hard to put down.
In the first tale ‘The Case of the Missing Rector’ the pair’s landlady, Mrs. Liffey, shows a Mr Cramsleigh-Ramble into their room, interrupting Shemlard’s mixing of a heroin cocktail. Their visitor informs them he’s been living with his granduncle, James Montague Rhodes, the Rector of Dymlich in Cholmondeleighshire, after running away from home.
There, he finds himself disturbed by ghosts on the lawns outside his window, which appear one at a time as the moon rises. Said ghosts ignore him, until one night they appear suddenly together and display the gaping holes through which their hearts had been ripped. Their mutterings of discontent and raised hands dripping with gore so affected our Cramsleigh-Ramble that he passed out with shock (as you would). The recovered Cramsleigh rushed to tell his uncle what had happened only to find that, while he himself was unconscious, his uncle had been dragged from his bed and ‘spirited’ away – hence ‘The Case of the Missing Rector’.
Once on the scene the police quickly uncovered the bodies of nine missing persons, all minus their hearts, which gives us our ghosts on the lawn. Cramsleigh-Ramble himself is convinced his uncle had discovered the bodies by accident and was then done away with by persons unknown. He invites Shemlard and Pickles to look into the matter and, upon accepting the request, so begin the literary adventures of this intrepid duo.
Readers who enjoy a good chuckle will get a lot from this memorable, light-hearted read. I’d not heard of John Salonia before but, on investigation, I discovered he has numerous works available on Amazon, and there’s no doubt in my mind that this book will bring him a fair number of new fans.